Saber Article Index

2020 Jul-Aug

“This We’ll Defend.” Everyone who was in the United States Army knows this phrase. It’s staring at them on their Drill Sergeant’s medallion when they first enter. In light of current events, anyone who is trying to alter this country outside of the constitutional process will find there are millions of Veterans who ave this phrase ingrained in their conscience and will never let it happen.

I received a telephone call from  969 MEDEVAC door gunner Richard Hampsher who called to correct me on some things in the last Saber. I first mentioned Richard back in 2017 Mar/Apr when he called to say that he knew MEDEVAC door gunner Bill Pickle and that they had both made SGT/E-5 at the same time.

First off, Richard said that James Megehee was not an SSG, but an SP6. Richard said that James was a  door gunner and not a crew chief and that he was used to training new door gunners like he was doing with Dave Parks. Richard said James was not sitting next to Dave in the gunner’s hell hole, but in the middle of the aircraft and was thrown out with the Medic, SP5 Gary Lee Bowdler, whom Richard said was also new. James may have been training the Medic as well. Richard said that James was older. He was due to go to flight school back in the states.

Richard said that the crew chief called “Lurch” was the first name, Jim, from North Carolina, and his last name began with an “M.” I found a James Minish on a 15th MED Roster. Email to his address returned NG. I looked online and found a valid obituary for James. James “Jimmy” Lee Minish, 70, of Greensboro died Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

Richard said that he ran into Jim at the “Wall” in D.C. and that Jim was as surprised as him to meet coincidentally. Jim wanted to get a MEDEVAC patch. There is a recent photo of Jim on that obit Web site, which is on a slideshow with other photos, and I couldn’t download it. The hat he is wearing says, “15th MED/EVAC 1st CAV CREW CHIEF\DOOR GUNNER.”

I asked Richard about an individual who suddenly showed up when I was on the ground at the Huey being trained when I first joined MEDEVAC. To my memory, he was rather short, had whitish hair, and on his Nomex, he had a CIB pinned, so I knew he was a grunt. He also had the demeanor of an infantryman and seemed to be concerned that I get it right. He may have known that I was a Medic just from 2-7 Cav.

It was strange the way he acted. I didn’t know what to think of him as I was being trained for MEDEVAC and no one introduced him, he suddenly was there for no reason, acting strange. I emailed Dave Parks years ago about him, but Dave never replied.

I asked Richard if it was Dick Gamester whom I never met but worked the radios in OPs. Richard said that Dick was short like that and had a CIB, so we determined it was him. I never saw him again.

Richard said that Dick was close to the pilots. He was probably a grunt looking out for his own by working the radios in OPs, where I never went to because they were so busy and instilled in the pilots the urgency of the grunts being picked up; that it wasn’t just some unimportant job. I’m sure they probably knew that just by being in MEDEVAC, but an infantryman there with a CIB pinned on would impress that.

Richard said that he had numerous Air Medals because Dick took care of that for the door gunners. Richard said something about receiving an Air Medal for every twenty-five missions.

I mentioned I had never received any Air Medal in MEDEVAC. Although, a couple of them in 2-7 Cav for Charlie Alphas, i.e., Aerial Combat Assaults. Even though I had flown quite a lot on MEDEVAC January to May before Cambodia, and then every day in May and June 1970 when we were all assigned to an aircraft. Everyone in MEDEVAC was assigned and flying during the Cambodian Incursion, not just one crew for each 15th MED company covering each brigade; backups; standbys; and admin flights.

Someone must not have been doing their job, keeping track, or I’m mistaken about the requirements for the Air Medal. I looked it up online, and it says, “Per 25 operational flights during which exposure to enemy fire is expected or per 100 operational flights during which exposure to enemy fire is not expected.”

I wasn’t there for medals, but it would have been helpful to show what was accomplished. I was flying on MEDEVAC to keep grunts alive. I think I, as well as the others in MEDEVAC, can say that happened, even if I can hardly remember most of it.

MEDEVAC pilot and 15th MED Assn webmaster Ron Huether always writes: “I’d give back all the medals to have saved just one more life.” That’s a good reminder.

Richard said that he doesn’t use a computer but would get together with his daughter, who does and send some photos. That hasn’t happened yet. It has to be a lot to ask for someone’s time to do all of that.

Richard says he was fortunate and was never shot down. He mentioned an incident when he and probably the crew chief had to go down on the hoist to get to a downed helicopter. I didn’t get the details from him. I thought he could more accurately write about that to me.

I found a book on my Kindle Reader from Amazon, which is a remaster of Matthew Brennan’s memoir, all of which I had read many years ago in the original form. The remastering is called Flashing Sabers: Three Years in Vietnam.

Matthew mentions being in III Corps on his third tour and a couple of incidents involving MEDEVAC. But it was he and the Blues that went down to the downed crews and used MEDEVAC because of their hoist, to extract, if survivors were found.

1st Cav Assn and 15th MED Assn Historian Terry McCarl and D 1-5 Cav platoon leader, Joel Chase posted photos on the 15th MED Assn website of those on FSB David in June 1970 I had written about, included here.

Always remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around the world, over and out.


FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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